At least ten persons have been killed, while over three dozens have been injured after an attack at a church in eastern Congo by suspected extremists, the country’s army has announced.
A bomb had went off in the Pentecostal church in the North Kivu province town of Kasindi, military spokesperson Anthony Mwalushayi said in a conversation with AP, alleging that a group linked to Islamic extremists was suspected to be responsible.
Videos and photos of the attack on social media showed dead bodies lying on the ground outside the church, including what appeared to be a dead child. The injured were being carried out of the church surrounded by other people screaming.
Survivors and witnesses said the blast severed some people’s limbs from their bodies.
Congo’s government urged people to avoid crowds and be vigilant as it conducted an investigation, the minister of communication tweeted.
An eyewitness, Masika Makasi, 25, was sitting under a tent outside the church when she heard a noise that sounded like a tire going flat, she told the AP from her home in Kasindi.
Her leg was injured in the attack and her sister-in-law, who was several feet away, died instantly, Makasi said.
“I am traumatized from seeing people die around me,” she said.
Violence has wracked eastern Congo for decades as more than 120 armed groups and self-defense militias fight for land and power. Nearly 6 million people are internally displaced, and hundreds of thousands are facing extreme food insecurity, according to the U.N.
Fighters with the Allied Democratic Forces, a rebel organization which is believed to have links to the the Islamic State group have carried out several attacks in Kasindi, which is located on the border with Uganda.
Troops from Uganda’s army have deployed to eastern Congo to try to stem the violence, but the attacks have increased and spread. ADF attacks since April have killed at least 370 civilians and involved the abduction of several hundred more, a report by the United Nations last month said.
The rebel group has extended its area of operations to Goma and into neighboring Ituri province.
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